Today’s guest blogger, Kelly Andrew, is a new friend I met via a professional networking event, but one I wish I would have discovered earlier. The more I learn about her, the more I think we are long-lost twins since we have so much in common. In this post, Kelly tackles a topic that weighs heavily on my mind, too – choosing when to listen to all the nagging voices in our head. I often joke I would have made a good Catholic because I can hang on to guilt with the best of them. Looks like this book Kelly recommends might help with that. It’s going on my list. Will it make it on yours?
My good friend, who is going through the Life Coaching program at UW-Madison, recommended an interesting book to me. Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way by Rick Carson was published back in the ’80’s, and despite my initial concern that it would be dated, I dug right in. The simple, straightforward concepts in this book are timeless, and frankly, I think it should be required reading for every adult striving to live their best life.
The premise of the book is that we all have a gremlin or gremlins inside, bringing judgement down on us every day. Our gremlins like to remind us of our right and wrong, and they think only in the black and white (something my type A personality struggles with all the time). Some gremlins tell us that when we feel sadness, we’re weak. Some tell us that when we feel sexual arousal, it’s bad, we’re hussys. Some gremlins even go so far as to reinforce that stress and being “busy” are the “right” thing and if we live with boundaries and balance we should feel guilty. Often, our gremlins tell us that life will be great…once we get our ducks in a row; yet that ideal place is always changing, and always just out of reach.
The instructions to overcome the voice of the gremlin are simple:
- Simply notice.
- Choose and play with options.
- Be in process.
I’ve been working hard over the last year to stop beating myself up. I hear my gremlins every day. You’re bad because you didn’t work out. You’re bad because you ate a burger instead of a salad. You’re bad because you said no to a colleague who asked for help. You’re bad because you said yes to a colleague who asked for help and now you don’t have time for yoga. It get’s tiring, you know? This book (and coaching from my life coach, therapist, and personal trainer) is encouraging me to simply notice that my gremlins are talking, and let it go. Self awareness is the first step.
With each nugget of self-awareness comes the opportunity for choice. My trainer told me this week, “I decided I couldn’t fight myself any more, so I stopped.” That’s when her life changed. Choosing and playing with options is about simply being present in your life, and being aware that emotions are not scary or bad, they just are. If we choose to respond in a way that is different from our usual response, we may find a more peaceful way to live.
Being in process is the simple acknowledgement that there will be no magic day when all of your ducks will be in a row. Choose to be present today. Choose the best options for you to feel good today, and recognize that you’ll have to continue this journey through your entire life.
I’m starting to believe that there is no miracle, no perfect, no “best year.” Every day is our opportunity to live the good life. Every day we can allow ourselves to feel our emotions, recognize that we have freedom to choose how we react, and live like we mean it. I’m working hard on acknowledging my gremlins’ presence, but not letting them run my life.
Kelly is a communications professional dedicated to local and small businesses here in Wisconsin. She recently left the nonprofit world to start her own consulting firm. When not working to help tell her clients’ stories more effectively, Kelly can be found on her yoga mat, at her family’s farm, or on her personal blog, Maple Hill Foodie.